Whether you’re on the water hundreds of days a year or you’re a weekend warrior, owning the right clothing is crucial to your success. I make part of my living guiding, and that means facing the elements on lots of days that most people would rather sit by a nice fire. Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned over the last couple of years when it comes to buying outdoor clothing:
1. Weight is critical. If you’re going to stand on a boat and cast all day long, the weight of your clothes can make or break you.
Down is a great option because it’s warm and super lightweight.
Consider whether you need to wear bibs vs. rain pants. Bibs are warmer, but they are heavier. Rain pains don’t have suspenders that put added weight on your shoulders. If you’re sitting in a ice shanty, bibs aren’t as big of a concern because the weight of the bibs are pulling down on you the same way they would be if you were standing in a boat.
Simms makes incredible outer wear that is considerably lighter than other companies. I picked up a set of Challenger Bibs and compared them to Cabela’s guidewear Bibs and the Simms Bibs were significantly lighter. Again - over the course of a day or over the cumulative effect of a week trip, you will be glad you paid attention to this detail.
2. Warm gear tends to break down over time. I bought a pair of hi end long underwear 20 years ago. The product is still in tact, but it just doesn’t keep me warm like it used to. This year I purchased the Ex Stream tops and bottoms from Simms and I can’t wait to put them to the test. The tops have a built in “buff” and a hoodie as well. The other thing I love about this product is that it “fits” well. Try on long underwear and see how it feels when you kneel and move around. A lot of stuff out there just isn’t built for the outdoorsman who is moving around a lot. As a cold weather fisherman, I need stuff that’s made to move in.
3. Buy stuff from a company that stands behind their product. Every product Simms makes comes with a lifetime warrantee. That means if the product falls apart because of a manufacturing defect, they will repair or replace that product for free! In the outdoor clothing world, you really do get what you pay for. Spend the extra to get the peace of mind for the life of your clothes!
4. Think in terms of layers. You already know this - but layers that breathe are essential to staying warm.
5. Always have a back up plan. Buy a dry bag and carry with you an extra pair of everything - just in case for some reason you fall in off the boat or fall through the ice. I just bought a large dry bag from Simms so that I am ready just in case. Cold water and cold air temps are nothing to mess around with. Be wise and be prepared!